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Top cancer center sees LIS aiding personalized care

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Jan. 21, 2014—Laboratory medicine leaders at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center say they are confident that their recent decision to adopt Orchard Software‘s Harvest laboratory information system will help them provide more finely tuned oncology treatment.

“Cancer care is becoming more and more personalized and customized, and we believe this laboratory information system … will allow us to increase the personalization of the laboratory testing even further,” says Melissa Pessin, MD, PhD, chair of MSK’s Department of Laboratory Medicine.

A key to that personalization is Orchard’s rules-based system, which helps automate how testing will proceed based on individual patient factors, Dr. Pessin says.

“This will allow us to reflex the appropriate testing that a patient needs based on their own situation, without requiring a tech or someone to remember that a particular patient needs special treatment of their specimen. We can develop sets of reflexive tests. If you get this answer, then continue on to the next test, and so on, until we complete the testing, and get a final answer back to the patient’s physician.”

Expeditious lab-testing in cancer care continues to grow in importance as oncology treatments increasingly move into outpatient settings. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, about 65% of the lab work is received from the organization’s outpatient network of sites, according to Dr. Pessin.

“The ability to define rules at a patient level allows us to complete all necessary testing without bringing that patient back in for an additional sample collection as we often have patients coming in from a distance. This allows us to get those answers back faster,” she says. “The real key is to get physicians the test results they need as quickly as possible, without a lot of unnecessary testing. This is much more customized lab testing for the patients.”

MSK’s Department of Laboratory Medicine plans to quickly implement the Orchard system, with the launch date currently scheduled for mid-July. While many lab leaders are feeling pressure to adopt lab software that is included in hospital-wide health information systems, that was not in the cards at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

“We’re an institution that strives to provide best-in-class patient care, including best in class laboratory testing,” Dr. Pessin says. “Our patients here are not plain vanilla, and thus a plain vanilla LIS solution doesn’t work for our patients.”

Orchard chief operating officer Curt Johnson says that LIS vendors looking to stay competitive in the hospital market must demonstrate how their products improve patient care and make financial sense.

“If you can’t communicate the value to the bigger organization, to the chief financial officer, you’re dead,” Johnson says. “You have to have value in your LIS that supersedes the so-called free systems. And if you don’t have it, you’re not going to make it. That’s just the bottom line.”

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